The 90’s were a glorious time to be alive! We had Daria, we had JNCO jeans, we had Delia*s catalogs . . . and we had scandals galore. This was pre-24 hour news cycles so while it felt exciting and chaotic at the time, most of these narratives would today be reduced to a brief chyron at the bottom of your screen. Without access to non-stop news channels and websites overanalyzing each additional piece of information, we were at the mercy of tabloids and the 6 o’clock news. Today, each of these scandals inevitably would’ve birthed a podcast series. But it was the 90’s, so we’re left with books!
Here is a round up of books about some of the most salacious stories from the decade that gave us Clearly Canadian and Beavis and Butthead.
Women On Ice: Feminist Responses to the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan Spectacle by Cynthia Baughman
This study offers a critique of the media soap opera which unfolded after the attack on Nancy Kerrigan at the 1994 US Figure Skating Championships, with contributions by feminist academics, journalists and critics who were intrigued with the depiction of this event in the media and society. The essays included explore a number of issues raised by the Harding/Kerrigan scandal: the roles women are meant to uphold in public (and that public women are meant to play in private), the prices extracted for violations of notions of femininity, fantasies about social class and upward mobility, and the ways in which the media reaffirm gender and cultural stereotypes.
Fire on Ice: The Exclusive Inside Story of Tonya Harding by Abby Haight and J.E. Vader
Here is a young woman whose fierce ambition was, in the end, her downfall. Her story is a tale of sacrifice and overcoming obstacles, of the strength of competition and the blindness of ambition. In the thin ice over which Tonya Harding always glided, we could not help but see an American story, and all of America was watching.
Nancy Kerrigan: In My Own Words by Nancy Kerrigan and Steve Woodward
Olympic medalist Nancy Kerrigan is one of the most recognizable and admired athletes of our time. In her own voice, Kerrigan tells a truly fascinating story–her childhood determination to be the best at her sport, the continued support of her family, revelations involving her skating techniques, the Detroit attack that left her injured and propelled her into the media spotlight, and the difficulties of her new-found fame.
The Tonya Tapes by Linda Prouse and Tonya Harding
Based on the candid and sometimes startling conversations that YOU were never meant to hear, THE TONYA TAPES, written by award-winning author Lynda D. Prouse, chronicles the life of the world’s most infamous female athlete — TONYA HARDING — revealing for the first time the whole truth of her difficult and amazing life on and off the ice. Based on actual, extensive interviews with Tonya Harding, and written with her collaboration, this is her story!
Forever Scarred: The Unauthorized John Wayne Bobbitt Story by Christopher Mark Kudela
Finally, after over twenty years the truth has been told in this gripping tell all book. Complete with signed confessional statements, the events that led to the most infamous non-death case in American criminal history are told in horrific detail. You knew he did it and now he’s admitted it. All of the disgusting perversion, the sinister mind games, the grotesque physical abuse, and most of all… let’s not forget the rape… it’s all inside. If you like twisted then prepare to be wound up tighter with each passing page. YOU WON’T BELIEVE ALL THAT HE DID.
Rodney King and the L.A. Riots
The Riot Within: My Journey from Rebellion to Redemption by Rodney King and Lawrence J. Spagnola
While Rodney King is now an icon, he is by no means an angel. King has had run-ins with the law and continues a lifelong struggle with alcohol addiction. But King refuses to be bitter about the crippling emotional and physical damage that was inflicted upon him that night in 1991. While this nation has made strides during those twenty years to heal, so has Rodney King, and his inspiring story can teach us all lessons about forgiveness, redemption, and renewal, both as individuals and as a nation.
In the Spring of 1992 five days of rioting laid waste to South Central Los Angeles, took scores of lives, cost the city more than 900 million in property damages and captured the attention of horrified people worldwide. Lou Cannon, veteran journalist, combines extensive research with interviews from hundreds of survivors, offering the only definitive story behind what happened and why.Official Negligence takes a hard look at the circumstances leading up to the riots. Cannon reveals how the videotape of the brutal beating of Rodney King had been sensationally edited by a local TV station, how political leaders required LAPD officers to carry metal batons despite evidence linking them to the rising toll of serious injury in the community, and how poorly prepared the city was for the violence that erupted.
Twilight : Los Angeles, 1992 by Anna Deavere Smith
Anna Deavere Smith’s stunning new work of “documentary theater” in which she uses verbatim the words of people who experienced the Los Angeles riots to expose and explore the devastating human impact of that event.
Never Again is based on a true account of the most violent and destructive civil disturbance in the United States in the last century. It is a never before told insight into the hours leading up to, during, and after the Los Angeles Riots erupted on April 29, 1992. The story deals with the emergent preparations and tough decisions a Watch Commander faced while preparing Lennox Sheriff s Station to intervene, as the Los Angeles Police Department found itself totally unprepared to handle this deadly and dynamic crisis. Never Again shows, detail by detail, how close the Sheriff’s Department was to potentially changing the course of history as the Watch Commander copes with his internal instinct to take action, waged against his self-discipline to follow orders, leading up to the final moment when he is ready to put his daring plan into action.”
The Menendez Brothers
In wrenching testimony, Lyle & Erik accused their father of sexually brutalizing then since they were children—claiming his sadistic acts of perversion and cruel violence drove them to their unspeakable crime.
Bestselling author Don Davis takes you inside one of the most riveting cases in California’s history, laying to bare the shattering secrets of a tormented family.
The Menendez Murders: The Shocking Inside Story of the Menendez Family an the Killings that Stunned the Nation by Robert Rand
Journalist Robert Rand, who originally reported on the case for the Miami Herald, has followed the Menendez murders from the beginning and has continued investigating and interviewing important sources for twenty-seven years. With unprecedented access to the Menendez family and its history, including direct communication with Lyle, Rand has uncovered extraordinary details that certainly would have changed the fate of the brothers’ first-degree murder conviction and sentencing to life without parole.
Blood Brothers: The Inside Story of the Menendez Murders by Ron Soble and John H. Johnson
Discusses the murders of a rich L.A. businessman and his wife by their two sons, who used a defense of child abuse to obtain a mistrial.
Truth and Lies in Beverly Hills by David Kennedy
Before there was a trial for O.J. Simpson, Jodi Arias, or Amanda Knox, there was Erik and Lyle Menendez. It was the first trial that was televised and America couldn’t get enough. They wanted all the gory details of the murders and as far as the public were concerned, the juicer the better.
Hung Jury: the Diary of a Menendez Juror by Hazel Thornton
On June 28, 1993 Hazel Thornton showed up for jury selection. She spent the next seven months as a juror on a high-profile murder trial: The People versus Erik Menendez. Erik and his brother Lyle were on trial for shot-gunning their parents to death in their Beverly Hills home. In this book, she describes the day-to-day experiences of a juror.
I Did It: Confessions of the Killer by O.J. Simpson
O.J. Simpson told how he hypotheticallywould have committed the murders. In response to public outrage that Simpson stood to profit from these crimes, HarperCollins canceled the book. A Florida bankruptcy court awarded the rights to the Goldmans in August 2007 to partially satisfy the unpaid civil judgment, which has risen to over $38 million with interest.
The Goldman family views this book as his confession and has worked hard to ensure that the public will read this book and learn the truth.
The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson by Jeffrey Toobin
A behind-the-scenes look at the crime of the century and the legal proceedings that followed sheds new light in the arrest and trial of O.J. Simpson, the evidence in the case, and the role of the prosecution and defense
Outrage: The Five Reasons Why O.J. Simpson Got Away with Murder by Vincent Bugliosi
Here is the account of the O. J. Simpson case that no one dared to write, that no one else could write. In this #1 New York Timesbestseller, Vincent Bugliosi, the famed prosecutor of Charles Manson and author of Helter Skelter, goes to the heart of the trial that divided the country and made a mockery of justice. He lays out the mountains of evidence; rebuts the defense; offers a thrilling summation; condemns the monumental blunders of the judge, the “Dream Team,” and the media; and exposes, for the first time anywhere, the shocking incompetence of the prosecution.
Without a Doubt by Marcia Clark
Without a Doubt is not just a book about a trial. It’s a book about a woman. Marcia Clark takes us inside her head and her heart. Her voice is raw, incisive, disarming, unmistakable. Her story is both sweeping and deeply personal. How did she do it, day after day? What was it like, orchestrating the most controversial case of her career in the face of the media’s relentless klieg lights? How did she fight her personal battles – those of a working mother balancing a crushing workload and a painful, very public divorce? When did she know that her case was lost? Who stood by her, and who abandoned her? And how did she cope with the outcome? As Clark shares the secrets of her own life, we understand for the first time why she identified so strongly with Nicole, in a way no man ever could. No one is spared in this unflinching account – least of all Clark herself, who candidly admits what she wishes she’d done differently – and, for the first time, we understand why the outcome was inevitable.
O.J. Is Innocent and I Can Prove It: The Shocking Truth about the Murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman by William C. Dear
Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman were brutally murdered at Nicole’s home on Bundy Drive in Brentwood, California, on the night of June 12, 1994. The weeks and months that followed were full of spectacle, including a much-watched car chase and the eventual arrest of O. J. Simpson for the murders. The televised trial that followed was unlike any that the nation had ever seen
The Affair of Bill Clinton and Monica
The Starr Report: The Findings of Indepedent Counsel Kenneth W. Starr on President Clinton and the Lewinsky Affair by The Washington Post and Kenneth W. Starr
Monica’s Story by Andrew Morton
Monica Lewinsky. You know her name, you know her face, and you think you know her story: the pretty young intern who began an illicit affair with the President of the United States– a liaison that ignited an unprecedented political scandal and found Bill Clinton as the second U.S. president to ever be impeached. But there is much more to the Monica Lewinsky story than just that. Now, Andrew Morton, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller, Diana: Her True Story, takes you beyond the headlines and the sound bites to discover the real Monica Lewinsky, a woman as interesting, intelligent, and misunderstood as they come.
One Scandalous Story: Clinton, Lewinsky, and Thirteen Days That Tarnished American Journalism by Marvin Kalb
In 1963 Marvin Kalb observed the Secret Service escorting an attractive woman into a hotel for what was most likely a rendezvous with President Kennedy. Kalb, then a news correspondent for CBS, didn’t consider the incident newsworthy. Thirty-five years later, Kalb watched in dismay as the press dove headfirst into the scandal of President Clinton’s affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, disclosing every prurient detail. How and why had the journalistic landscape shifted so dramatically? “One Scandalous Story” seeks to answer this critical question through the inside story of thirteen days — January 13-25, 1998 — that make up a vital chapter in the history of American journalism. In riveting detail, Kalb examines just how the media covered the Lewinsky scandal, offering what he calls an “X-ray of the Washington press corps.”
American Rhapsody by Joe Eszterhas
If the Watergate scandal was a previous generation’s National Nightmare, then maybe the Clinton scandal was our National Wet Dream, and who better to narrate it than the screenwriter Joe Eszterhas? In American Rhapsody, Eszterhas, whose credits include Basic Instinct and Showgirls, and Charlie Simpson’s Apocalypse, for which he was nominated for a National Book Award, takes us through the events that threatened to topple a president and left most of the nation’s citizens with, at the very least, a bad taste in their mouths.
The Death of Princess Di
Death of a Princess: The Truth Story Behind Diana’s Tragic End by Tom Sancton and Scott Macleod
Finally — the ultimate investigation and full story of what really happened and why, by the two Time magazine Paris-based correspondents who have covered the case from the beginningWith privileged access to hundreds of pages of documents and scores of interviews with witnesses, experts and investigators, Thomas Sancton and Scott MacLeod reveal the truth behind the events that occurred during the early morning hours of August 31, 1997.
Princess Diana: The Hidden Evidence by Jon King and John Beveridge
Two British investigative journalists present significant new evidence on the death of Princess Diana.Presented in the form of a trial, this book lays out the unsettling evidence that the Royal establishment and British Intelligence (with support from the C.I.A.) colluded in the death of Princess Diana.
The Day Diana Died by Christopher Anderson
A year after Princess Diana’s tragic death in 1997, shocking revelations about her passing have surfaced via eyewitness testimony. From the nurse who covered her naked, lifeless body and who answered the queen’s immediate query of “where are the jewels?” to the off-duty paramedic who held Diana’s head in his hands, The Day Diana Died leaves no sacred rock unturned.
The Murders of Tupac and Biggie
Murder Rap: the Untold Story of the Biggie Smalls & Tupac Shakur Murder Investigations by the Detective Who Solved Both Cases by Greg Kading
Two of the most notorious unsolved cases in the annals of American crime, the murders of Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls have been the subject of exhaustive investigations, relentless speculation and a tangled web of rampant rumors, crackpot conspiracies and dark secrets. Now, for the first time, the truth behind these sensational cases is laid bare in Murder Rap, a raw and riveting account of how a dedicated and driven police detective spearheaded the task force that finally exposed the shocking facts behind the deaths of these two rap music icons.
LAbyrinth: A Detective Investigates the Murders of Tupac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G., the Implication of Death Row Records’ Suge Knight, the the Origins of the Los Angeles Police Scandal by Randall Sullivan
Acclaimed journalist Randall Sullivan follows Russell Poole, a highly decorated LAPD detective who in 1997 was called to investigate a controversial cop-on-cop shooting, eventually to discover that the officer killed was tied to Marion “Suge” Knight’s notorious gangsta rap label, Death Row Records. During his investigation, Poole came to realize that a growing cadre of black officers were allied not only with Death Row, but with the murderous Bloods street gang. And incredibly, Poole began to uncover evidence that at least some of these “gangsta cops” may have been involved in the murders of rap superstars Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur.
Once Upon a Time in Compton by Tim Brennan and Robert ladd
For twenty years, gang unit detectives Tim Brennan and Robert Ladd patrolled the streets of Compton. They witnessed the birth and rise of gangsta rap with acts they knew personally, such as N.W.A and D.J. Quik; dealt firsthand with the chaos of the L.A. riots, its aftermath, and the gang truce that followed; were involved in the investigations of the murders of hip-hop stars Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G., and were major players in an all-out tug-of-war with City Hall that ultimately resulted in the permanent shut-down of the Compton Police Department.
Are there any other fascinating scandals of the 90’s that you’d love to read about?